Police Who Jailed EV Owner For ‘Electricity Theft’ Say He Was Being A Jerk

It’s a well-known but unwritten rule: don’t make the person holding the gun cross. Be a jerk and you might end up dead or, if the person with the gun is a policeman, in Jail.  As the latest twisty in the story of EV driver Kaveh Kamooneh shows, not everyone chooses to play by those rules.

Screen-grab from local television reports

Mr. Kamooneh, who was reported by police to be uncooperative (Photo via 11Alive’s new report)

Yesterday, Transport Evolved reported that Kamooneh from Atlanta Georgia, spent fifteen hours in jail after charging his Nissan LEAF electric car for twenty minutes from a 110-volt electrical outlet at Chamblee Middle School while he waited for his son to complete Tennis practice. Since it was early in the morning, with no-one around Kamooneh decided to throw caution to the wind and ‘warcharged,’ using the school’s electrical power without permission to charge his car.

Talking to various news outlets this week, Kammoneh has been portrayed as a well-meaning citizen trying to make the world a better place by driving an electric car, while the officers who attended on scene were cast as petty jobsworths who were unable to differentiate between a tiny misdemeanour theft charge and grand theft auto.

As a statement released yesterday by the local police department shows however, there’s always two sides to any story. And the one being told by the Police is completely different.

The statement, which we’ve included in full at the bottom of the story, says that not only was Mr. Kammoneh uncooperative with the attending officer, but accused him of causing damage to his plug-in car — damage which had already been sustained before the police officer already arrived on the scene.

Moreover, Kammoneh’s son wasn’t the one playing tennis: it was Kammoneh himself, who had previously had a run-in with the school’s resource officer for ‘interfering with the use of the tennis courts’ during school hours. It was this previous conflict with the middle schools’ administrative staff which we think caused the police to be called in the first place — although that isn’t clear from the police statement below.

“We received a 911 call advising that someone was plugged into the power outlet behind the middle school. The responding officer located the vehicle in the rear of the building at the kitchen loading dock up against the wall with a cord run to an outlet. The officer spent some time trying to determine whose vehicle it was. It was unlocked and he eventually began looking through the interior after verifying it did not belong to the school system.

The officer, his marked patrol vehicle and the electric vehicle were all in clear view of the tennis courts. Eventually, a man on the courts told the officer that the man playing tennis with him owned the vehicle. The officer went to the courts and interviewed the vehicle owner. The officer’s initial incident report gives a good indication of how difficult and argumentative the individual was to deal with. He made no attempt to apologize or simply say oops and he wouldn’t do it again. Instead he continued being argumentative, acknowledged he did not have permission and then accused the officer of having damaged his car door. The officer told him that was not true and that the vehicle and existing damage was already on his vehicles video camera from when he drove up.

Given the uncooperative attitude and accusations of damage to his vehicle, the officer chose to document the incident on an incident report. The report was listed as misdemeanor theft by taking. The officer had no way of knowing how much power had been consumed, how much it cost nor how long it had been charging.

The report made its way to Sgt Ford’s desk for a follow up investigation. He contacted the middle school and inquired of several administrative personnel whether the individual had permission to use power. He was advised no. Sgt. Ford showed a photo to the school resource officer who recognized Mr. Kamooneh. Sgt Ford was further advised that Mr. Kamooneh had previously been advised he was not allowed on the school tennis courts without permission from the school . This was apparently due to his interfering with the use of the tennis courts previously during school hours.

Based upon the totality of these circumstances and without any expert advice on the amount of electricity that may have been used, Sgt Ford signed a theft warrant. The warrant was turned over to the DeKalb Sheriffs Dept for service because the individual lived in Decatur, not Chamblee. This is why he was arrested at a later time.

I am sure that Sgt. Ford was feeling defensive when he said a theft is a theft and he would do it again. Ultimately, Sgt. Ford did make the decision to pursue the theft charges, but the decision was based on Mr. Kamooneh having been advised that he was not allowed on the property without permission. Had he complied with that notice none of this would have occurred. Mr. Kamooneh’s son is not a student at the middle school and he was not the one playing tennis. Mr. Kamooneh was taking lessons himself.”

Unless you're at a designated EV charging spot, check before plugging in.

Unless you’re at a designated EV charging spot, check before plugging in.

Yesterday, we carefully cautioned that you should never plug in your electric car to an electrical outlet without asking for permission to do so first. Not only is it technically theft, but as some of our readers noted, it could even damage your car if the domestic outlet you’ve plugged into isn’t correctly wired.

Today? The only conclusion we can draw from the latest twist in the five cent electricity theft saga is that, just like everyone else, electric car drivers can sometimes be total jerks.

Would you have acted the same way if you were the arresting officer? Do you think the police department were fair? Has Kamooneh been punished in an appropriate way for disrespecting a police officer and causing a nuisance of himself — or do you think the punishment still outweighs the crime?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

 

 

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Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield
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Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield

Self-confessed geek and mother of two, Nikki has been talking and writing about cars ever since she passed her driving test. Back then, her Internet contributions were all classic car-focused. Now, she’s all about greener, cleaner, safer and smarter cars.
Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield
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  • JohnCBriggs

    I think the use of the tennis courts (at the time of the incident) is a bit silly. I doesn’t sound like they were being used at the time, so I don’t see any problem there.nnBut being rude and self-entitled to the cop, let’s just say that is ill-advised (I’m trying to be polite). As for the cop’s actions, sounds like he was in the right for writing the guy up. For the people issuing the arrest warrant and holding the guy for 15 hours, I have mixed feelings. If this teaches the guy not to mouth-off to a cop again, I think it is justice.nnThe whole policing system benefits from voluntary cooperation. In general you do what the cop says, not because you always agree, but because the policing system, in general, prevents conditions from spiraling out of control. nnHonestly, I don’t have any problem with the guy using the tennis courts or using a few electrons, but being rude to a police officer that is only trying to do his job, well that is just over the line.

  • Michael Thwaite

    Well, there is indeed the other side. What a shame the guy was free-loading rather than being an ambassador for EVs. What a shame.

  • JohnCBriggs

    I love that the photo makes him look like a jerk :)

    • Brent Jatko

      Some people just look like that. nWhen a journalist asked Ringo Starr why he looked so sad all the time, he responded, “It’s just me face.”

  • CDspeed

    It sounds like the EV driver is in fact a jerk, and this would not have made the news if he was just plugged-in and offered to pay for what he had used. But this case also involves repeated trespassing on school tennis courts and his bad attitude which lead to him being defensive. This isn’t just a case of an innocent EV driver being discriminated against, this is about a repeated trespasser who happened to own an EV.

  • leptoquark

    You should, of course, ask permission, but you can grease the wheels nwith a little education thrown in. Most outlet owners are concerned nwith one thing: the cost. We, as nEV drivers, should all know about what it costs to charge our cars at nLevel 1. The number I keep in my head is that, here in Maryland, the naverage cost for electricity is 14 cents/kWh (including energy and ndistribution costs), and that EV charging at L1 will draw nthe 12 Amps, as pointed out in the article, and will average 20 cents nper hour of charging. nnSo, along with asking permission, which I agree with, I would add nfollow-up information that it would cost the plug owner only about 20 ncents per hour. Once they hear that, most people are greatly relieved. n You can even flip them a quarter and say “keep the change”.

  • David Peilow

    On the other hand, this statement is pretty ambiguous. The police would of course never issue a statement to embellish their position.

  • Aubrey Stallard

    Spirited discussion here yes…nnnSo, I’ve heard both sides and come up with my own position in…prose:nhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RA-nZd22NQU

  • alvord1430

    It’s not stealing or trespassing if you’ve already paid for it. I guarantee they wouldn’t have bothered a teacher for charging there. My income and property tax statements show the significant amount of money I pay to my local school system. I wouldn’t feel guilty about using the school’s facilities when students aren’t using them. On rare occasion, I intentionally seek out municipal buildings to charge my car from.

  • Mark Petersen

    To me the big question is, would he also have been arrested if he was charging a mobile phonenIf not then there is a problem

  • Andyj

    It all depends on factors I don’t see made clear. Does the school directly pay the the electric bill, if not, are any local EV posts in the area free? Then there is no theft.nnnHowever, if the police camera shows a pre damaged door and this man accused the policeman of damage on camera then that is certainly fit for the courts. Throw the book at these types.nnnPeople have been accused of trespass and fined/imprisoned in England for hundreds of years but the law only covered Scotland. This school is I guess, “public property”? The man teaching him ought to take the rap for that accusation. As for parking his car there… no posts, gates, no hardship caused?nnnA lot of people when pushed up against a corner do lash out. It’s in their blood, culture and upbringing. It does not work well at all with those who claim “authority” over the cornered.

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  • Lucas Parrish

    Plugging your EVSE into a miswired outlet will not damage your car, the EVSE will simply not send the pilot signal and the car will not charge.nnPublic spaces are just that – public. There are signs everywhere of what you can’t do – no skateboards on sidewalks, no use of tennis courts without reservations, no parking in handicap zones. If something isn’t marked as ‘No UnAuthorized Use’ then I feel its fair game. After this, I’d scared to get a drink of water from the fountain at the local park. There is no sign as to whether I can use it or not.nnFinally, if the police ‘threw the book’ at Mr. Kammoneh simply because he was rude then I find this an abuse of police powers. Rude people are part of dealing with the public. There is no law against being an azzhole. Police Officers should not use the law to further their own agendas.

  • Lh

    Just as an FYI it could be less than the quoted $0.05 as commercial rates in GA vary based on useage from $0.10/kWh to as low as $0.0071/kWh. (The more you use the cheeper the kWh. The “ev rate plan” from GA power for residential ranges from $0.20/kWhpeak to $0.01/kWh supper off peak…..this is generally not a great deal as the normal rate plan is $0.04/kWh to $0.093 depending on time of year and amount used/month.

  • Guest

    Do keep in mind that Chamblee PD are also well known for being Less than professional. Not trying to defend him,but let’s just say…he could have made this “go away” for a facilitation fee. This “tradition goes way back in Chambodia.

  • ScottS42444

    Just treat people in a kind, forgiving manner and things can end up becoming a positive. I once got a ticket for having a taillight out on my sister-in-law’s car (which REALLY must have gone out sometime that day) driving on a major street. The ticket was given (not a warning) from a police officer from my own small town. I was pretty incensed that I wouldn’t get a break when there are thousands of people driving on North Ave. (blocks outside of Chicago, a major thoroughfare) who have such minor/major incidents who could be punished instead. Kind of a hometown courtesy. But, out of habit, I still thanked the guy and he kind of smirked and left. As I started thinking of what just happened, I felt like such a pushover/idiot for thanking someone for costing me money when he could have let it go with a warning, especially since our town was REALLY hurting at the time with unemployment and foreclosures. I told myself, the next time something happened I wouldn’t be nice since it doesn’t matter anyway and act like a jerk. Sure enough, when the roads were icy a year later in the winter I ended up sliding through a stop sign and got pulled over (BTW, I have only been pulled over 4 times in my life so this was a coincidence). I was in a different car than the last time but the officer was the same. I told him I was sliding, he said it didn’t matter that I should have started slowing earlier (he’s right, I should have). But he remembered the previous incident and said he was just going to let me go (not even a written warning) because I was “one of the good guys” in the neighborhood. Blowing a stop sign is a much more expensive ticket than having a taillight out (at least in my neck of the woods) and I have seen the officer driving in the years since and he has always either politely waved or stopped and said hello. Good things happen if you treat people, especially those that you NEED if you are ever in danger (and those who will put their lives on the line for you and your family if need be) with just some nice, friendly courtesy. Of course, some of them are scumbags. But, not all (or even most) of them.

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